Better Roads Planned In Town Budget

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A seven-year plan to chip or slurry seal town roads is part of a lean 2004-05 fiscal year budget currently under review by the Payson Town Council.

At a special meeting Thursday night, the council took a second look at the $33.9 million budget. When adjusted for expenditures approved by the voters and grants, the total is $29.5 million -- less than the $30.2 million budget for the current fiscal year.

"We throw in stuff that may or may not happen," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said. "If you get a $2 million grant and you don't have it in the budget, you have to wait until the following year to spend it."

Carpenter also noted that actual expenditures are always less than the approved budget.

"The budgets are always higher than we expect to spend because state law doesn't allow us to exceed the limit," he said.

Local sales tax revenues, which account for 48 percent of general fund revenues, are expected to be up five percent in the 2004-05 fiscal year, according to Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith. He expects the town to take in $5.55 million from local sales tax during the current fiscal year.

General fund requests from individual town departments totaled $12.9 million for 2004-05, but Carpenter pared more than $700,000 from those wish lists. The three departments requesting the most money are police ($3.6 million), fire ($2.1 million), and parks and recreation ($1.1 million).

Besides the seven-year streets maintenance plan, Carpenter pointed out that the budget includes money to give raises to employees.

The budget also includes money to remodel the Main Street fire station, and for the police communications upgrade approved by the voters.

Also in the proposed budget is money to improve communications, including a higher quality newsletter and upgraded television capabilities.

The revised budget reviewed Thursday evening included changes to the original budget requested by the council when it was first presented two weeks ago.

"We had set the (Payson) Senior Center at less than full funding and they restored that," Carpenter said.

Mayor Barbara Brewer sounded an optimistic note.

"It's going to be a very tight budget, but the important thing is to accomplish as much as we can with what we have," she said. "It's coming together very well, so we'll be able to give the employees the market raises they so deserve, and also start looking to tuck away for the streets that we promised to do."

On July 8, the council is scheduled to vote on a tentative budget.

"Once you adopt a tentative budget, you can only move things around or reduce them," Carpenter said. "You can't raise expenditures."

In August, the final budget will come to a vote, followed by the tax levy. The fiscal year begins July 1, 2004.

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